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Phoenix Series 3 Results: Stoliarenko Claims Gold in Thriller, Tennant Captures Tournament

Kansas City, Kan. — On Friday, March 6, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted its third Phoenix Series tournament plus a bantamweight title headliner in a historic night at Memorial Hall. The event aired exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

The Phoenix Series 3 main event was an instant classic as Lithuania’s Julija Stoliarenko battled Lisa Verzosa in one of the bloodiest fights in Invicta history. Stoliarenko scored with a head kick early, stunning Verzosa. The American responded with a stiff right hand that put Stoliarenko on the ground. Verzosa followed her down, but was forced to defend an armbar. Blood began to pour from Stoliarenko’s nose, setting the tone of the fight. A second armbar attempt was unsuccessful, but Stoliarenko took the round. Verzosa fought back hard in round two, repeatedly scoring with her right hand. The nose of Stoliarenko bled badly in round three, but she was unfazed, slicing Verzosa open with an elbow. Both fighters sported a crimson mask for the remainder of the fight, pushing the pace and looking to put the other away. The mouthpiece of Stoliarenko frequently hit the canvas from the right hands of Verzosa. A finish never came and the fight was sent to the judges to determine a new champion. They were split in their scores, but Stoliarenko took the fight on two cards to capture the belt.

Taneisha Tennant picked up her third win of the night, defeating Taylor Guardado in the Phoenix Series 3 bantamweight tournament final. Tennant’s pinpoint striking was on display from the onset, peppering Guardado from range with counter strikes. Guardado came forward with pressure, but Tennant’s footwork kept her just out of range. Tennant caught Guardado with a strong right hand that sent her mouthpiece flying to the mat. Guardado never backed down, marching forward. A takedown attempt by Guardado was met with a great sprawl by Tennant. Blood poured from Guardado’s nose in round three and her corner told her she was down on the judges’ scorecards. She pushed the action, but Tennant’s nightlong showcase of technique continued throughout the final frame. Guardado came up short on her punches, but did score with heavy leg kicks. It wasn’t enough, as Tennant took home the decision and tournament trophy to remain undefeated.

The strawweight contest between Kay Hansen and Liana Pirosin became the first fight in modern MMA history to utilize open scoring. Hansen showcased her strong grappling game throughout the fight, taking down the Brazilian at will. Pirosin did her best to stay active off her back, but Hansen repeatedly got the better of the scrambling exchanges. The second round was the most dominant round of the fight for Hansen, who took Pirosin’s back and briefly secured a body triangle. She scored with short punches from top position and earned a 10-8 round from one of the judges in real time. The third round was again a display for Hansen’s grappling, but Pirosin went for broke knowing she was down on the scorecards. She threatened Hansen with an armbar just as time expired, but could not find the finish. Hansen took the clean sweep from the judges. “It was nice knowing the scores, so I didn’t have to guess,” said the victorious Hansen of the open format.

In the second tournament semifinal, Taneisha Tennant used a measured striking attack and great takedown defense to edge Hope Chase. The forward pressure of Chase had no impact on Tennant early in the fight as she stayed on the outside and looked to counter. Chase powered into a double-leg attempt, but Tennant shrugged her off. The pair traded flashy techniques as a question-mark kick from Tennant was followed by a wheel kick attempt by Chase. Late in the fight, Chase’s takedown attempts worked against her, as Tennant battered her with elbows along the fence. That proved to be the difference on the scorecards as Tennant moved to the tournament final.

The first semifinal match-up featured Taylor Guardado against Serena DeJesus. Guardado powered the fight to the fence early and tried to secure a takedown. DeJesus landed short knees and elbows to stay upright. When the pair separated, DeJesus was able to score with kicks from range. The pair returned to the clinch and DeJesus scored with more elbows. Guardado continued to apply pressure, flurrying with punches in the fight’s waning moments. The judges were split in their verdict, handing Guardado a spot in the final.

The second tournament reserve bout was largely a one-sided affair as veteran Mitzi Merry topped newcomer Morgan Hickam. Merry controlled range early before catching Hickam with a series of right hands. Hickam kept her chin high as she absorbed multiple shots. The Tennessee fighter put Merry against the cage and worked hard to secure a takedown. Merry used an active guard from bottom, attacking with an armbar, then an omoplata. The ensuing scramble saw Merry take Hickam’s back and threaten with a choke attempt. She couldn’t score the finish, but Merry took home the decision victory.

In tournament reserve action, Kelly Clayton battered fellow newcomer Florina Moeller en route to a submission win. Moeller barreled forward recklessly, eating right hand after right hand. She was undeterred, getting inside and pushing Clayton to the cage. Clayton showcased great balance, preventing Moeller from getting the fight the ground. Clayton continued to score with power punches on the feet before earning a late takedown. She took Moeller’s back and applied a rear-naked choke to coerce a tap before the final bell.

The final tournament quarterfinal fight pitted Taneisha Tennant against Brittney Victoria. Tennant showcased her crisp striking from the opening bell. Victoria tried to use her boxing, but Tennant kept her at range with kicks. Tennant put together a series of punches that backed Victoria to the cage. The diverse arsenal of Tennant kept Victoria guessing, as she battered the body with a kick and punches. Victoria sought a takedown late in the fight, but Tennant punished her with a combination of punches. The fight saw the scorecards, with Tennant becoming the fourth and final semifinalist.

Hope Chase and Julia Ottolino engaged in a highly competitive fight in the third tournament quarterfinal bout. Chase came out and applied pressure right away. Ottolino scored with a series of kicks, but Chase flurried forward and brought the fight to the ground. Chase applied ground and pound before Ottolino threatened with an armbar. Chase defended, but ate an upkick in the process. She allowed Ottolino to stand and again flurried with a series of punches along the fence. Ottolino tried to counter, but she could not match the volume of Chase, who punched her ticket to the semifinals by decision.

In the night’s second match-up Taylor Guardado outworked Claire Guthrie to capture the second spot in the tournament semifinals. Guardado was aggressive to start, powering Guthrie to the fence. She brought the fight to the mat, but Guthrie attacked with a triangle choke attempt. Guardado navigated the submission and the referee stood up the fight after a brief stalemate. A right hand from Guthrie found the mark, but the strike left her open to a level change from Guardado, who dragged the fight back to the ground. The fight’s final minute was spent in the clinch, with all three judges rewarding Guardado for efforts.

The tournament semifinals kicked off with a battle between Serena DeJesus and Kerri Kenneson. The more experienced Kenneson immediately went for a takedown and put DeJesus on her back. DeJesus did not panic and worked back to her feet. Kenneson landed short uppercuts in the clinch, but DeJesus responded with knees and big elbows. When the pair separated, Kenneson threw a body kick which allowed DeJesus to time a takedown of her own. She dropped an onslaught of short punches to Kenneson’s face. The fight returned to the feet briefly, but Kenneson earned a late trip takedown and took the back of DeJesus. DeJesus spun into the full guard to finish the fight on top. The judges were in agreement, sending DeJesus to the semifinals.

OFFICIAL RESULTS
Julija Stoliarenko def. Lisa Verzosa by split decision (48-46, 46-49, 49-46) – for bantamweight title
Taneisha Tennant def. Taylor Guardado by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) – bantamweight tournament final
Kay Hansen def. Liana Pirosin by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Taneisha Tennant def. Hope Chase by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – bantamweight tournament semifinal
Taylor Guardado def. Serena DeJesus by split decision (10-9, 9-10, 10-9) – bantamweight tournament semifinal
Mitzi Merry def. Morgan Hickam by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – tournament reserve bout
Kelly Clayton def. Florina Moeller by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 4:51 – tournament reserve bout
Taneisha Tennant def. Brittney Victoria by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – bantamweight tournament quarterfinal
Hope Chase def. Julia Ottolino by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – bantamweight tournament quarterfinal
Taylor Guardado def. Claire Guthrie by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – bantamweight tournament quarterfinal
Serena DeJesus def. Kerri Kenneson by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – bantamweight tournament quarterfinal


About Invicta FC:

Invicta Fighting Championships is a world championship, all-pro mixed martial arts (MMA) fight series dedicated to providing female athletes with a major platform to hone their skills on a consistent basis. Founded in 2012 by longtime MMA executive Shannon Knapp, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible match-ups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport. Follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights), Facebook (Facebook.com/InvictaFights), and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.

Phoenix Series 3 Official Weigh-in and Tournament Draw Results

Kansas City, Kan. — On Thursday, March 5, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted the weigh-ins for PHOENIX SERIES© 3. The event takes place from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan., on Friday, March 6, with the entire card streaming live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 7 p.m. CT.

The event is headlined by a bantamweight title fight between undefeated 24-year-old Lisa “Battle Angel” Verzosa (5-0) and The Ultimate Fighter alumna Julija Stoliarenko (8-3-1) of Lithuania. Verzosa — née Spangler — has earned four of her five career victories inside the Invicta cage. The Washington-based fighter most recently defeated Kerri Kenneson at Invicta FC 38. Stoliarenko will make her promotional debut riding the momentum of a four-fight winning streak since leaving the TUF house. All eight of her career wins have come via first-round armbar submission.

Joining the title match-up is a one-night, eight-woman tournament, also in the bantamweight division. The single-elimination tournament will feature one-round fights in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, with the tournament final being a three-round affair to determine the tournament champion.

The tournament participants were matched up during a random draw during the event’s weigh-ins.

In the first quarterfinal bout, Las Vegas-based Serena “The Southpaw Outlaw” DeJesus (1-1) meets the most experienced fighter in the tournament, “Scary” Kerri Kenneson (3-2). The second match-up pits the debuting Taylor “No Mercy” Guardado (0-0) against Colorado’s “Grizzly” Claire Guthrie (1-0). In the third pairing, “Hurricane” Hope Chase (2-1) squares off against Julia “Chicago” Ottolino (1-0). Finally, California’s Brittney “Bombshell” Victoria (3-1) takes on Taneisha “Triple Threat” Tennant (2-0).

As was previously announced, the event will utilize open scoring.

Below are the results of the event’s weigh-ins.

Bantamweight Title: Lisa Verzosa (134.2) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (134.2)
Strawweight: Kay Hansen (115.9) vs. Liana Pirosin (116)
Bantamweight Reserve Bout No. 2: Mitzi Merry (135.5) vs. Morgan Hickam (135.6)
Bantamweight Reserve Bout No. 1: Kelly Clayton (135.5) vs. Florina Moeller (135)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 4: Taneisha Tennant (135.7) vs. Brittney Victoria (135.1)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 3: Julia Ottolino (134.7) vs. Hope Chase (135.8)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 2: Claire Guthrie (135.7) vs. Taylor Guardado (135.8)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 1: Kerri Kenneson (135.5) vs. Serena DeJesus (135.3)


About Invicta FC:

Invicta Fighting Championships is a world championship, all-pro mixed martial arts (MMA) fight series dedicated to providing female athletes with a major platform to hone their skills on a consistent basis. Founded in 2012 by longtime MMA executive Shannon Knapp, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible match-ups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport. Follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights), Facebook (Facebook.com/InvictaFights), and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.

Phoenix Series 3 Features Bantamweight Title Fight and One-Night Tournament

Kansas City, Mo. – The fastest-paced format in mixed martial arts returns on March 6, when the bantamweights get their chance to run the gauntlet of the PHOENIX SERIES©, fighting up to three times in one night. The world’s premier all-women’s combat sports organization, INVICTA FC®, presents PHOENIX SERIES© 3 from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan., with an action-packed event also featuring an Invicta world championship fight.

The PHOENIX SERIES© is an eight-woman, single-elimination tournament that takes place in one night. Both the quarterfinal and semifinal bouts are contested over a single five-minute round. The winners of those two frantic stages meet in the finale, which is fought over three, five-minute rounds. The innovative format presents fighters with unique challenges and fans with an explosive, rapid-fire night of MMA action. The eight tournament participants will be matched up during a random draw prior to the event. The full tournament format and rules can be viewed here.

Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp said, “We have something very special with the PHOENIX SERIES© format and, after the strawweights and flyweights gave us two memorable tournaments last year, we very excited to see what the bantamweights can do in this unique environment.”

The tournament field includes three-fight Invicta veteran “Scary” Kerri Kenneson (3-2), the return of California’s Brittney “Bombshell” Victoria (3-1), three unbeaten combatants in Erin Harpe (2-0), Taneisha “Triple Threat” Tennant (2-0) and “Grizzly” Claire Guthrie (1-0), decorated striker “Hurricane” Hope Chase (2-1), Nevada product Auttumn “The Natural” Norton (1-1), and “No Mercy” Taylor Guardado —née Stratford, who battled the likes of Ronda Rousey and Raquel Pennington in the amateurs — makes her long-awaited pro debut.

The PHOENIX SERIES© format debuted last May, when strawweight Brianna Van Buren ran the gauntlet in a reputation-making night. The California fighter was immediately called up to the UFC following her tournament victory. When the PHOENIX SERIES© returned last September, it was 22-year-old flyweight Miranda Maverick who made a name for herself by scoring two stoppages in three fights en route to lifting the trophy. Maverick returns this Friday at Invicta FC 39 in Kansas City to take on former UFC star Pearl Gonzalez in a fight that could catapult her into an Invicta word title fight.

“We are looking for one of these eight women to seize the moment,” Knapp said. “We’ve purposely invited athletes who are in the earlier stages of their careers to compete in the tournament. This is the chance for one of them to make the MMA world take notice.”

The event will also showcase a world championship fight as undefeated 24-year-old phenom Lisa “Battle Angel” Verzosa (5-0) squares off with The Ultimate Fighter alum Julija Stoliarenko (8-3-1) of Lithuania for the vacant Invicta FC bantamweight title. Verzosa — née Spangler — has earned four of her five career victories inside the Invicta cage. The Washington-based fighter most recently defeated Kerri Kenneson at Invicta FC 38. Stoliarenko will make her promotional debut riding the momentum of a four-fight winning streak since leaving the TUF house. All eight of her career wins have come via first-round armbar submission.

Elsewhere on the card, strawweight veterans Amber “The Bully” Brown (7-6) and Sharon “The Dream Catcher” Jacobson (6-5) will collide for a second time. The two-time national wrestling champion Jacobson took home a decision win over Brown in the quarterfinal round of the inaugural PHOENIX SERIES© tournament last May.

Also in the strawweight division, 20-year-old Californian Kay Hansen (5-3) tangles with Brazilian Liana Pirosin (7-3).

Finally, the card will feature two tournament reserve match-ups as Serena “The Southpaw Outlaw” DeJesus (1-1) meets Julia “Chicago” Ottolino (1-0) and Oklahoma’s Mitzi “The Mauler” Merry (2-1) returns against newcomer Morgan Hickam (1-2).

PHOENIX SERIES© 3 will take place from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. The event will stream live on UFC Fight Pass at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets to the event can be purchased through Eventbrite.

The full fight card can be found below:

Bantamweight Title: Lisa Verzosa vs. Julija Stoliarenko
Bantamweight Tournament Final: TBD vs. TBD
Strawweight: Amber Brown vs. Sharon Jacobson
Strawweight: Kay Hansen vs. Liana Pirosin
Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal: TBD vs. TBD
Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal: TBD vs. TBD
Bantamweight Reserve Bout No. 2: Mitzi Merry vs. Morgan Hickam
Bantamweight Reserve Bout No. 1: Serena DeJesus vs. Julia Ottolino
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal: TBD vs. TBD (Randomly Drawn)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal: TBD vs. TBD (Randomly Drawn)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal: TBD vs. TBD (Randomly Drawn)
Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal: TBD vs. TBD (Randomly Drawn)

PHOENIX SERIES© 3 Combatants
Auttumn Norton
Brittney Victoria
Claire Guthrie
Erin Harpe
Hope Chase
Kerri Kenneson
Taneisha Tennant
Taylor Guardado


About Invicta FC:
Invicta Fighting Championships (invictafc.com) is a world championship, all-pro mixed martial arts (MMA) fight series dedicated to providing female athletes with a major platform to hone their skills on a consistent basis. Founded in 2012 by longtime MMA executive Shannon Knapp, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible match-ups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport. Follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights), Facebook (InvictaFights), and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.